Local farmers are turning to the Internet (of all places) to generate funding for projects on their farms. Crowdfunding websites, such as KickStarter.com, are becoming an increasingly popular way for farmers to fund projects they otherwise might not have the resources to complete. From local agriculture start-ups to farm equipment purchases, we found over 800 projects on KickStarter.com’s website requesting funding for as much as $50,000. A search on GoFundMe.com returns over 350 similarly related projects. With projects goals ranging from “saving the farm” to “funding growth,” it’s plain to see that local farmers are meeting financial challenges in creative ways.
Crowdfunding has popularized over the last 5 years in the US with the launch of multiple websites such as KickStarter.com, GoFundMe.com, and IndieGoGo.com. The concept is quite simple. Anyone with a financial need can post a project to the website. The project owner requests a set dollar amount of funding (say, $10,000 to purchase a new tractor). Typically, project owners offer a “gift” for donations amounts at various levels. Projects are shared across the internet via social media and blogging outlets, which help to generate support for the project.
How Farmers Use Crowdfunding to Fund Projects:
Project 1: Sprout Urban Farms Veggie Van
Sprout Urban Farms posted a project on GoFundMe.com to raise money for a new delivery van (since, in their words, the old van “gave up the ghost”). Sprout Urban Farms delivers local produce to low-income neighborhoods and senior housing in Battle Creek, Michigan. They deliver their high quality produce to what they call the “Food Deserts” of their community. So far, they’ve raised $1,000 of the $10,000 need funds.
Project 2: Maple Lane Farms Legal Dispute
Maple Lane Farms is an 225-acre agri-tourism farm that has provided fall activities to the local community since 1992. Local patrons visit the farm in the fall to enjoy hayrides and music events, as well as visit the pumpkin patch and corn maze. These fall events are big contributor to their bottom line. Unfortunately, about 6 years ago a bordering neighbor opened a lawsuit to stop the events. Although they are still running their business, continuous appeals have left the farm drained of much needed resources. Unlike large corporate farms, the Maple Lane Farms can’t afford the costs of continuous litigation. They have raised $980 of the $10,000 in needed funds.
Project 3: First Generation Farmers
First Generation Farmers is a small farm currently operating on only 5 of the 50 acres of land available to them. The farm’s lack of resources prevents them from using nearly 45 acres of their fertile land. Their goal is to raise enough money to purchase the equipment necessary to use more of the land, and eventually launch a program designed to train young people how to farm. They have raised $8,732 of the $50,000 in needed funds.
Find out more about donating to a farm by visiting these crowdfunding sites: